HC Deb 12 July 1973 vol 859 cc1767-8
15. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what percentage of diplomats guilty of parking violations claimed diplomatic privilege during the last 12 months for which records are available.

19. Mr. Worsley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons have been charged with infringement of the parking regulations during the last convenient period and subsequently have been shown to have enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

Mr. Carlisle

The great majority of parking infringements are dealt with under the fixed penalty procedure and do not result in charges being brought. According to police records, the total number of fixed penalty notices cancelled on grounds of diplomatic immunity during the six months to the end of April 1973 was 17,557. The police report the number of incidents and the missions involved, but I regret that the records do not enable us to identify the number of different diplomats concerned in these incidents.

Mr. Janner

Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the figures show a disgraceful abuse by some diplomats of the hospitality so willingly accorded to them in this country? Will he consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary on how the matter can properly and decently be dealt with?

Mr. Carlisle

I will, indeed, Sir. It is the duty of persons enjoying immunity to respect the laws of the country to which they are accredited. Every month the attention of the heads of diplomatic missions is drawn to fixed penalty notices incurred by members of their staff.

Mr. Worsley

Does not my hon. and learned Friend agree that it is a com- plete nonsense that diplomatic immunity, intended to allow diplomats to pursue their affairs without intervention by the Government, should be extended in any way to parking regulations of this sort?

Mr. Carlisle

The question of diplomatic immunity is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. At present diplomats are entitled to claim it and, as we hear, they do claim it.

Mr. Paget

Would not a simple plan be to instruct the police to tow away any diplomat's car guilty of a parking violation?

Mr. Carlisle

That seems to be another question. One of the difficulties might be to be sure that the car is that of a diplomat and not of someone else.

Sir J. Rogers

Has my hon. and learned Friend any figures for the number of British diplomats abroad who enjoy similar immunity? If they were published, would not such figures look just as bad as the figures that he has announced today?

Mr. Carlisle

I am not in possession of those figures. Indeed, they would not come from my Department even if I had them.